Sunday, January 14, 2007


We saw the Monet exhibit yesterday. His paintings are so incredible. It was nice to see about 30-40 of the paintings set up in chronological order. I could follow the progression of his style. I saw a more traditional style in his early work, then saw how he started the little curved strokes. His later work added more of the strokes, then he started working on expanding the palettes of color. What’s incredible is that he had a style for working with color, but the palette changed from painting to paining. It’s not like all of his paintings are the same shades of color. Some were lighter than others, with the lightest being a snowscape. It was interesting to see he blurred and formed the signature of the impressionist style. Finally, with the water lilies, he "went large" and open.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Saturday Night

We went out with some friends, two other couples, and saw Children of Men and went for dinner. The movie was not that good as it was very violent and had an extraordinarily weak story line. Highly NOT recommended.

The funny story was at dinner. When we were offered the check, we were given the option for separate checks. Normally, this would be three checks for three couples. However, the young man gave us six individual checks. We assumed it was because he didn't know who was with whom, and we were right!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Moving into 2007

As much as I enjoyed the time away from work, there is a certain ritual associated with work that is comforting. It was good to get back to see the folks with whom I work and to hear about the holidays. 2007 promises to be a very interesting and exciting year with work as there is growth in the market and infinite opportunity for innovation.

I'm looking forward to taking the flow class today at 10:45 as it's been a while since I've done this class. The regular teacher may still be away, but the standing sub is good.

We'll probably group with some friends tonight, grab a bite, and see a movie.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My First Yoga Class as Teacher

About 4:15 today, I got the panic call from the coordinator at the fitness center where I'm scheduled to do my first intro to yoga class. They needed a sub for the 5:15 advanced class.

The class is a group of regulars who meet for a weekly flow class. I was informed that the regular instructor doesn't use music, the class has been together for quite some time. I agreed to come over early and learn the logistics for the class (punch cards, student names, etc.) and where the control for the lights was located.

I greeted the class, asked about injuries (one back, one knee). As quickly as I could, I surveyed to see the level of the students -- which was a combination of eying the initial postures before settling in and the initial dialog with the students. The general request was to go somewhat easy on the class as they hadn't met for a few weeks, and this was the first day back to work.

There really wasn't a lot of planning time to put together a formal set of sequences, so I basically put the first two together in my head on the way over to the fitness center, and made up the third on the fly. Fortunately, I've taken a lot of flow classes so I had a pretty good repertoire from which to assemble the sequences. I only made one error in symmetry, forgetting a triangle pose on the second side. The obviously most advanced student in the class called out the pose for us, and I thanked him, inserted the pose, and finished the sequence.

We did a couple of balance poses, then I asked if there were any finishing poses the class would like to do. There was a request for plow, shoulder stand, and pigeon. Overall, the postures looked pretty good. However, I really had wanted the class to ease into pigeon, and I saw some of the students sort of hurriedly go toward the floor (without the best form). I'm not sure if the pace was a little slow, or if they took me up on the statement that we "weren't doing synchronized yoga today."

Finally, I offered the class the opportunity to do any final poses their bodies called for in prep for savasana. Most folks did some twisting poses with their legs.

We had ample time for savasana (I left just over 5 mins for a one hour class) and the class rested peacefully with very little restless movement. I thanked the class for the hard work, their energy, and the honor and privilege of guiding their practice...Namaste.

In general, I was pleased with the outcome. From the feedback I received, the class was at the right pace, and folks thanked me for substituting. I sensed that people felt better at the end of class rather than at the beginning.

I figure that I've been through one of the most challenging situations a yoga teacher might face. First of all, I was substituting for a regular class with a regular teacher. It was a class where people had obviously taken a good bit of yoga, based on their knowledge and skill. It was my maiden voyage. And, there was basically no time to prep. If I can do this, then I think other teaching opportunities can only be easier.

I only did one little "dance" step at the beginning of class. One of the students asked me where I was currently teaching. I told her that I wasn't currently teaching at another studio, but was getting ready to teach a 10-week beginner course in the same facility where we practiced today. (There was no way I was going to tell them it was my first time teaching a yoga class!)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Yoga Class

2007 is the year where with all going to plan I'll be certified to teach yoga. Part of my teacher training is to log 20 hours of teaching. I have arranged to do a 10-week, hourly class for the first 10 hours at work. Currently, I'm in the process of doing the lesson planning for the class. While I'm sure some of the plan will be subject to change, given the skill and background of the majority of students, I want to have a solid plan to work from.

At some point, I'm sure I could improvise a yoga class, but for the first class I really want the benefit of planning.

The teacher training class didn't meet in December, and I really miss my classmates. There are 15 students in the class and the teacher makes 16. Somehow, this group has come together quickly and it's a good mix.

Today, we take Jenn to the airport as she heads back for her second quarter of college. We will miss her very much as it's been most enjoyable having her back in the house for the last three weeks.

Finally, no new year's resolutions for me -- well, unless you call trying to stay in the moment a resolution. I see how quickly time goes by. There's no reason not to enjoy and savor life, one breath at a time.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Great teamwork

Most of the time, I don't put too much about my work on my blog. However, I thought I'd say just a little about the leadership exhibited by one of the people on my team as she led an amazingly complex project to a successful conclusion this month.

What I observed (and, in fact encouraged) was the simplification of the project by doing a couple of things. One, was to stay focused on the end result -- eye on the prize, so to speak. Second, was to work the naysayers either into the game, or out of the way. One would be amazed at how much damage negative thoughts can do to project work. When people use words like "fail" or phrases like "there's no way we'll finish on time" it is debilitating.

Positive affirmations about the desired outcome aren't delusional and they're not just wishful thinking. They are very empowering and tend to send the team in the right direction.

It was also interesting to see how much emotion came into play. When folks get tired or frustrated, they often feel the bottom drop out from underneath them, or the wind die down in their sails. However, it's amazing how much resilience we have available once we know how to tap into it.

I saw my project manager keep the team focused, tap into their creativity, work toward a positive outcome, manage the naysayers, and at the end of the story have a happy ending -- the desired outcome.

It reminds me of a saying I heard from one of my colleagues: "You may believe you can, or you may believe you can't. Either way, you're right."

Friday, December 29, 2006

Air Travel

Recently, I went to London on vacation. Naturally (in this day and age) it involved air travel. The flight originated from RDU on 12/16, heading to Chicago for a connection to Heathrow. There was about a five-hour layover in Chicago, so there was plenty of buffer for things to not work right.

Anyone who travels by plane more than once a year is aware of the difficulties encountered in air travel. There is always something new and exciting to deal with. For example, you have to pack any carry on liquids into a transparent bag, and the containers must all be smaller than 3.5 fluid ounces of content.

Our flight from RDU to ORD was delayed, due to weather in Chicago. It was not delayed a little, but delayed a lot -- something greater than two hours. While this was not an issue for us, it put pressure on other folks who had connecting flights. Now, different people deal with travel stress in different manners. As one example, I was flying with a colleague and her family who were en route to India for three weeks vacation. They missed the connecting flight to Delhi, but the weren't freaking out.

Another example of someone on the plane is one where the situation wasn't handled well. This young lady engaged in a cell phone conversation from the plane while we were waiting to leave RDU (you know, one of those conversations that really should be held in private, not in front of 115 people on a plane). This lady spent about 20 minutes yelling at her significant other about how it was his fault that the plane was delayed, and how this was so disruptive to her life. The other 19 minutes were variations on the same theme, with the interrogative "do you understand me?" punctuating each cadence. This was clearly an example of someone who doesn't have a more global view about things.

I have the benefit of practicing yoga, and in generally I keep a pretty cool head about things, although I do understand the stress that can occur with travel as my most challenging trip was to Bangalore

The question naturally arises: "Is it worth it to get all worked up about travel?" We have to understand there are things out of our control, and we have to go with the flow. Contingency planning is valuable. However, for me, the answer was revealed based upon the following.

We boarded the flight for Heathrow, which was leaving late due to accumulated delays in Chicago. Other folks had to hurry to make this flight, some trying to return home to London. One such family was a man, his wife, and daughter who were returning from a week-long cruise. I was seated by the aisle and I often watch the other passengers boarding. This gentleman, probably in his 60's, was carrying a computer bag. I thought is was a little odd that he was hunched over just a bit.

The line was moving slowly, and this fellow made it to a place in the aisle just beside my seat back. I noticed that the man started falling backwards. I reached out to grab his right arm and try to stabilize him as I thought he's just lost his balance. The weight into his arm kept increasing as the fellow kept going back toward to floor. As his face came into view, I saw that this man was in serious trouble, most likely already dead. There is a vacant look in the eyes which communicate the absence of life, the exodus of the spirit.

Very quickly, we formed a team to do what we could to help this man. Fortuitously, the man sitting behind me was a medic, the lady sitting across the aisle one row back was a doctor. The flight attendants quickly brought oxygen and a ventilating bag, but they didn't have a defibrillator, which was a surprise. We worked with this man on the aisle floor beside my seat until the medics came. Unfortunately, he had no vitals. The medics took him to the jetway and tried to help him, but to no avail.

This man's wife and daughter stood in the aisle and saw their husband, their father pass away. I felt their grief, and could empathize.

In the aftermath, it turns out that this family had to make a dash across the airport to make their flight. While there is no evidence suggesting the stress of trying to make a flight can cause a heart attack (which is almost certainly what happened to this man) I do believe that stress can cause your body to weaken and leaves you vulnerable.

While this for me was a serious life lesson in why you shouldn't "kill yourself" to get to a flight, others missed the point. Helping this man caused a further delay in the flight, and other passengers were angry and stressed because of the further delay. Some people just don't get it, and that's sad.